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Is live-in relationship better than marriage? || Acharya Prashant (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
11 min
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Question (Q): There is a growing trend of having live-in relationships as opposing the marriage. We are finding more people falling into a live-in relationship. Is that a movement forward? Would that be considered something that would take us to freedom?

Acharya Prashant (AP): We are very good at playing with names. So if you are married to someone, you live with him or her; in a live-in relationship too, you live with somebody. How does it matter? Ultimately you are living with somebody.

Why are you living with anybody? You can choose the marriage route, you can choose the live-in route, you can choose some other route, you can decide to be part of a commune or some other setting, some other kind of gathering, a club or something; but the thing is about company and relationship. Why is there such a hungry need to be with someone? And when I say, "Why," I mean, "Why?" It's a question, not an allegation. When I say, "Why is there such a need to be with someone?," we need to answer this.

It's mostly about men and women being together. There is a man, there is a woman; when they are married, then they have obtained some kind of a social license, a sanction. The hold of society is now loosening, the old barriers of religion and cast are slowly crumbling, and especially the big cities offer a lot of anonymity, so you can afford to be together without seeking the sanction of family or society. And that you call as a 'live-in relationship'. 

In fact, many, if not most of the live-in partners would probably not have moved into live-in, had it been possible to somehow get married. Given a choice, they would get married, but because marriage is being opposed on grounds of caste, religion, economics, or something, so they decide to live-in an anonymous way. I am not saying this happens in all live-in cases; but in a large number of cases, this too is the story. So, all said and done, it is about the desire to be with a person, whether in a married way or in an unmarried way.

Why is there such a great desire to sleep on the same bed and live in the same room? What the hell is that person bringing into your life? Must that question not be asked?

Even if you get married, what do you do? You bring a man or woman to your house, or you move to his house, whichever way. What's so great in sleeping upon somebody's bed, or having somebody else come to your bed? And is that not what the culmination of marriage is about - sharing a common bed, and gaining the authority to slip your hands inside somebody's pants? Even the courts of law call that as 'the consummation of the marriage'.

Q: So, live-in is unofficially a marriage?

AP: Live-in is an unofficial marriage. Live-in is marriage not sanctioned by society. Otherwise, what really is the difference? Tell me. And we said many of the live-in couples would marry if marriage were to be made possible to them. Married couples fight. And there have been so many reports of live-in partners not merely fighting, but actually assaulting each other and even killing each other.

If my memory serves me right, the courts have ruled that if two people have been living with each other since long in a live-in way, they are to be treated as de-facto married couple. And having lived-in with a woman, if you drop her after let's say 3 or 4 years, you are even liable to pay alimony and such stuff. I might not be expressing the legal nuances very accurately, but that's the gist of what even the courts have ruled.

So, there is not much difference between live-in and marriage. The question is one: Why do you need a partner? You need to ask that to yourself. Secondly, if you indeed do need a partner, are you with the wrong person, or are you with the right person?

If you discover that you really do need the presence of somebody in your life, first of all, the reasons must be very-very clear. You cannot just blindly go about inviting somebody into your very-very personal, inner space. The reason has to be absolutely clear.

Secondly, if you are clear that you indeed do need someone, then you need to very honestly, very rigorously ask yourself: "The person that I am right now choosing, is he really right for me?" To answer that question, you will have to move into the spiritual dimension.

When you want to answer whether that person is right for me, you need to know who you are, you need to know what your deepest desire is. And then you also need to know what would really fill that desire. 

So, you ask me - "Is live-in really an advancement?" Not quite, not quite. It is just another kind of marriage; just another kind of marriage.

Co-habitation is a sensitive thing—living with somebody.

One thing that really changes your life this way or that way, is the power of the company. When you are living with somebody, then that person gains enormous power to affect your life in all kinds of ways, and you too get that power.

So, it is both a vulnerability and responsibility.

You become responsible for the other person's upkeep. And you cannot do justice to that responsibility, if you are not a spiritually evolved person.

If you are someone who cannot take care of herself, how will you be sure that your presence, your company is not becoming influence of sickness on the other person? So, be very-very alert about co-habitation; just don't start living with anybody.

Be very- very conscious of your personal space. It is sacred, not everybody must be allowed to enter it.

I am not merely talking of the body; the mind is much- much more sacred than the body. The purity and such things of the body probably do not matter so much, but the mind must be kept virgin. Not every Tom, Dick, Harry must be allowed to touch your mind. Be very cautious.

Q:  That applies to your friends and families as well?

AP: That applies to your friends and families, everybody. Very-very good interjection, very good, very good. So, when you are talking of marriage and live-in, and such things, you must first of all be careful about your family members as well.

Now that makes it a little explosive, but then as a Teacher it is my responsibility that this aspect too is brought out. Aren't you living with your family members? You aren't probably related to them in a sexual way, but the power of the company, the influence of a person's presence on your life is still taking place. So, see what is the presence of other people doing to you.

Obviously, when you are with a sexual partner, then the power and the influence are magnified many folds. But even if the one you are with is not your husband, or wife, or sexual partner, even if that person is merely a friend, or a brother, or a sister, or a father, or a mother, or a relative, the company would still show effect.

So be very cautious of the one you are spending time with. The face that you are regularly seeing, the body that you are regularly smelling, the voice that you are frequently hearing—these are the things that would decide the direction of your life.

Q: So, for the youth, is there a specific age where you just need to be alone? In the sense that you have to first explore things out.

AP: Obviously, you must learn aloneness. You must learn aloneness.

Before you relate to people, you must be very-very comfortable with yourself. If you are someone who cannot be with herself comfortably, easily, gladly, then kindly spare the other person. If you are not alright with yourself, then don't start piggybacking on the other. 

And usually, it is that way. You go to the other precisely because you are not alright with yourself, which is not good.

At the same time, we must remember that we will have to relate to each other. We are not going to live insulated, isolated; we are going to be related. But the relationship has to be healthy. You should not become a burden on the other; you should not become a carrier of pathology to the other.

Q: What are the steps that a youngster can take to live alone?

AP: Read. When you are reading, it cannot be a group activity, obviously. It is you and the book. Read, learn to travel alone, watch movies alone, play. There is so much that can be done only in your aloneness. And that would keep you, make you very-very strong from the inside, very fulfilled, very complete in yourself. Then you would not be approaching the other as a beggar, then even if you approach the other, then even if you relate to the other, it would be a relationship of Health, a relationship in which you have something to give, a relationship of Joy; not a relationship of dependence and desperation.

Q: Where maybe everybody you are surrounding, are reading.

AP: Yes, yes, yes.

We need to see a lot of young people traveling on their own, we need to see a lot of young people living all by themselves for very long years, many-many long years.

We need to see these things, and we need to see young people who are much more socially conscious. So, when I see they are living all by themselves, that does not mean that they are socially cut-off. They are relating to the wider society in a purposeful, productive, creative way. They are not just going and riveting themselves to one male or one female, and declaring that the two of them are the entire universe. And that's what happens.

You know, when you say you are in love, especially when you are freshly in love, you say, "It's the two of us and that's our world." No, not that way.

When you are really comfortable with yourself, then you find that you have gained the power and the expanse to relate with a hundred people; hundred people without making any of them extraordinarily and pathologically special for yourself.

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